The Dēnkard is the most exhaustive Pahlavi work ever produced in Zoroastrianism. Due to the large amount of information included in it, this body of work has often been referred to within the field of Iranian Studies as a ‘Zoroastrian Encyclopedia’. This article discusses two main points. First, it holds that it was not the intention of the Dēnkard’s authors and editors to compose a Zoroastrian encyclopedia in the 9th and 10th centuries. By contrast, the independent texts which serve as the basis of this compilation deal with other religions or present a Zoroastrian apologetic. It also claims that the Dēnkard has not been perceived as an encyclopedia in later Zoroastrianism. Second, the article scrutinizes the editorial process that led to this book. It furthermore argues that the Dēnkard, in its current form, has been structured to resemble the Zoroastrian world history comprising nine millennia. This article aims, moreover, to show that the last three books of the Dēnkard aim to depict Zoroastrians as belonging to the People of the Book. The article finally argues that the Dēnkard should be considered entirely a theological apologetic within an inter-religious context, which was mainly carried by Muslim theologians.
The Twelver Shiʿite law of inheritance constitutes one of the most distinctive features of the legal system in comparison with Sunni law. Although there are major and even irreconcilable divergences between the Sunnite law of succession according to all four legal schools on the one hand and Twelver Shiʿite law on the other, no convincing explanations for this striking development within Islamic law itself, leading to two fundamentally distinct systems, have hitherto been put forward. The aim of this preliminary study is to call attention to several remarkable correspondences between the complex Iranian (Zoroastrian) law of succession, conceived to support the specific needs of aristocratic descent groups in the Sasanian period, and Twelver Shiʿite regulations, reflecting a very similar underlying concept of family ties and descent groups as a whole. The question is, whether these congruencies are purely coincidental or based on age-old social and traditional norms, which continued to be practised in the regions of the former Sasanian empire after the Islamic conquest. As Sasanian norms remained operative in customary law (now documented by Pahlavi legal documents from 8th century Tabarestān) during the formative period of Islamic law and the Sunnite regulations, being based to a large extent on pre-Islamic tribal law in Arabia, contrast sharply with the Shiʿite concept, it would be consistent to assume that certain precepts in the pre-Islamic Iranian system had an important impact on the development of the Twelver Shiʿite law of inheritance.
The seventh annual conference of LUCIS focuses on Islamic Central Asia, both from a historical and contemporary perspective. Central Asia today is often regarded as a periphery of the Islamic world, but this region with its fluid borders, stretching into present-day Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and the Caucasus, has been for a long period the cradle of empires that ruled over large parts of the globe.
Central Asia in the past has been at the heart of the trade network known as the Silk Road, a premodern highway of global interaction. The idea of a New Silk Road today demonstrates Central Asia’s increasing importance as a centre stage of geopolitical interests. Comprehending the complex history of Central Asia by taking into account its dynastic and regional historiographies and more recent nationalistic narratives is crucial for perceiving the current dynamics of this vast region.
Analysing commemorative practices across Central Asia may provide a prolific framework to outline the complexity of its group identities, in modern times often constructed as nationalistic narratives. In this conference we propose to focus on the notion of memory and commemoration in Central Asia from past and present perspectives, in a broad sense, in order to shed light on the complexities of this fascinating and understudied region.
Rather than focusing on a single period, medium or language of commemorative practices, the conference will take a comparative and connective perspective. Questions that may be addressed include:
Narratives: How does literary and artistic production reflect imperial ideology and commemorative culture? How were dynastic members commemorated and rehabilitated? How were genealogies concocted and manipulated in order to commemorate the ancestral origins? How were important events commemorated?
Sites: How were visions of kingship articulated in commemorative dynastic shrines and landscapes across Central Asia? How did religiously diverse commemorative practices contribute to the development of a distinct royal visual morphology? How were urban centres transformed through the diverse visual lexicon of local Islamic cult activities? How are historical shrines and cults commemorated in the present?
Religions: How was commemorative culture influenced by orthodox Islam and Sufism? What was the impact of these complex theological interactions on the intellectual life and artistic production throughout Central Asia? How are religious commemorative practices used in contemporary nationalistic discourses?
The themes of the conference are broad on purpose, as we wish to welcome speakers from different disciplines and backgrounds.
Please find the full programme of the LUCIS annual conference here.
Intriguing dreams, improbable myths, fanciful genealogies, and suspect etymologies. These were all key elements of the historical texts composed by scholars and bureaucrats on the peripheries of Islamic empires between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. But how are historians to interpret such narratives? And what can these more literary histories tell us about the people who wrote them and the times in which they lived? In this book, Mimi Hanaoka offers an innovative, interdisciplinary method of approaching these sorts of local histories from the Persianate world. By paying attention to the purpose and intention behind a text’s creation, her book highlights the preoccupation with authority to rule and legitimacy within disparate regional, provincial, ethnic, sectarian, ideological and professional communities. By reading these texts in such a way, Hanaoka transforms the literary patterns of these fantastic histories into rich sources of information about identity, rhetoric, authority, legitimacy, and centre-periphery relations.
About the author: Mimi Hanaoka is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond, where she is a scholar of history and religion. Her publications include scholarly journal articles on Persian and Islamic history and historiography. Her work as a social and cultural historian focuses on Iran and the Persianate world from the tenth to fifteenth centuries, concentrating on issues of authority and identity. In the field of global history, she concentrates on interactions between the Middle East and East Asia, focusing on the history of Iran-Japan relations.
This is a forthcoming volume, scheduled to be published in March 2017.
The spread of Islam and the process of Islamisation (meaning both conversion to Islam and the adoption of Muslim culture) is explored in the 25 chapters of this volume. Taking a comparative perspective, both the historical trajectory of Islamisation and the methodological problems in its study are addressed, with coverage moving from Africa to China and from the 7th century to the start of the colonial period in 1800.
Key questions are addressed including what is meant by Islamisation? How far was the spread of Islam as a religion bound up with the spread of Muslim culture? To what extent are Islamisation and conversion parallel processes? How is Islamisation connected to Arabisation? What role do vernacular Muslim languages play in the promotion of Muslim culture?
The broad, comparative perspective allows readers to develop a thorough understanding of the process of Islamisation over 11 centuries of its history.
The editor: A.C.S. Peacock is Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic History at the University of St Andrews, and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge. His previous publications include The Great Seljuk Empire (2015) and Early Seljuq History (2010).
Friday, June 24, 2016, École française d’Extrême-Orient – 22, avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris.
Organized by Samra Azarnouche (EPHE).
The works of Marijan Molé (1924-1963) has left a distinctive and lasting imprint on the field of Iranian Studies. His careful and insightful studies on the Avestan and Middle Persian literature, the Islamic mystical treatises as well as the Persian epics play an important role in our understanding of Iranian history, culture and religions. This conference focuses on one of the peculiarities of Molé’s research, namely the scholarly attempt at bridging the gap between pre-Islamic and Islamic Iranian Studies, between the different strata of religious and literary traditions, and between the great mythical and prophetic figures. The (recent) discovery of his Nachlass (IRHT and BULAC) gives us the opportunity to make an inventory of his legacy, which highlights the originality of his approach in the study of religions.
A textual and contextual study of an early Arabic mirror for princes
Mirrors for princes form a substantial and important genre in many pre-modern literatures. Their ostensible purpose is to advise the king; at the same time they assert that the king, if he is truly virtuous, will appreciate being reminded of the contingency of his power. The unknown author of the Counsel for Kings studied in this book wrote in a distinctive early tenth-century Iranian environment. He deploys an abundant set of cultural materials representing ‘perennial wisdom’ of mixed provenances, which he reinvigorates by applying them to the circumstances of his own time and place.
The first volume situates Counsel for Kings in its historical context. The second volume gives direct access to a substantial portion of the text through translation and commentary.
Integrates the evidence of Counsel for Kings with established materials for the study of Samanid history
Demonstrates the interplay of mirrors for princes with other forms of literary expression, such as anthologies of adab, historiographical, theological, philosophical and homiletic writings, encyclopaedic works and poetry
Louise Marlow is Professor of Religion and Program Director for Middle Eastern Studies and Wellesley College.
The volume edited by Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi brings together twenty nine articles by the leading scholar of Iranian studies, Prof. Ehsan Yarshater on the various subjects of Iranian history, culture, religions, literature, dialects and philology. It presents a valuable collection of important articles, which many of them were not easily accessible. The collection represents the author’s most important contributions, written in Persian language in the period between 1327š/1947-48 to 1380š/2001-02. Even the papers are concerned with a range of different subjects, they are pretty much interconnected, as it is possible to trace lines of ideas originating in one article which the author develops in latter writings. All these are carefully and illuminating described by the editor in his preface to this volume. The papers are categorized into four thematic chapters: 1. Autobiography and Obituary (with three articles), 2. World Art and Literature (with four articles), 3. Language and Civilization (with nine articles), 3. Civilization and the Secret of Survival (with thirteen article).
Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi is Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto and the Founding chair of the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto-Mississauga.